by Howard Campbell
[St. ANN’S BAY, Jamaica] – A child of the 1950s, Winston Rodney was raised in the scenic town of St. Ann’s Bay, in St. Ann parish, Jamaica. The man who became famous as reggae singer Burning Spear never forgot his roots.
“It was cool, it’s a coastal place an’ I liked to swim. I was involved in a youth club…it was a lot of fun,” he said.
The legendary artist has not been to Jamaica in five years, but reaches out to organizations in his hometown including the St. Ann’s Bay Primary School which he attended, the he St. Ann’s Bay Infirmary and the Children’s Ward at St. Ann’s Bay Hospital.
“When I was a young man, nobody was giving us anything. With the help of Zazan I got involved even more with helping the needy,” Spear explained.
Zazan is Mytania Samuels, a colleague of Spear’s who does charity work in St. Ann and neighboring Portmore in St. Catherine parish.
Being a largely Christian country, Jamaicans attend churches of various denominations during Easter. They also consume huge quantities of bun (a raisin-filled loaf) and cheese which will be a feature of the treat.
St. Ann’s Bay is also the birthplace of Marcus Garvey, founder of the Pan African movement and Jamaica’s first National Hero.
Garvey inspired Marcus Garvey, Spear’s signature work, released by Island Records in 1975. Recorded at the height of the roots-reggae revolution in Jamaica, it is one of pop music’s great statement albums.
Burning Spear made his name as one of roots-reggae’s most enduring acts, touring for months annually. He gave up the road just over 10 years ago but makes a comeback this year on two high-profile events — Rototom Sunsplash in Spain in August and the Welcome to Jamrock cruise in December.